The Paletz Law Blog

Sharing is Caring – Especially When it Involves Your Attorney

September 28th, 2022 | By: Rachel R. Dornbush, Esq.

For the last 2 ½ years, Landlords and Property Managers have been wading through the various changes in Landlord/Tenant law, court procedures, and rental assistance. Though the CERA (COVID Emergency Rental Assistance) Program is coming to an end, and though some of the changes may become permanent (we’ll keep our readers posted on this), some things never change: the importance of sharing certain information with your attorney before initiating legal action.

Withheld/Escrowed Rent & Repair Issues

Whether your tenant has grounds to withhold or escrow their rent may ultimately need to be determined by a court action. If they have done so, it should be disclosed your attorney if you are aware of it – whether verbally or in writing. This disclosure needs to occur as soon as possible, and before you issue a demand for payment, so that your attorney can assess when legal action should be initiated. If legal action is not immediately started, your attorney can assist with how to approach the dispute.

Administrative Complaints

Some of these types of complaints involve those filed with the Department of Civil Rights, the Attorney General, or even the local municipality. While a landlord is not prevented from pursuing legal remedies for a tenant’s breach of the lease when an administrative issue is pending, it’s important to notify your attorney of its existence to determine how it might, if at all, affect the legal action. Additionally, your attorney can often assist in responding to these complaints as we at Paletz Law do so routinely for our clients.

Missing Payments, Ledger Disputes & Payment Arrangements

One of the most common issues that arise in a Nonpayment of Rent action are payment issues – either a tenant claiming a payment hasn’t been accounted for on their ledger, charges are incorrect, or that some sort of agreement has already been reached between the parties. If the landlord is aware of an alleged missing payment, it is helpful for your attorney to know what steps, if any, have been taken to locate the payment before suit is started to recover it. If the issue is a disputed charge, these things can often be resolved without legal action and your attorney can assist with this process. If a payment arrangement has already been reached, legal action might not yet be appropriate. Discussing these issues with your attorney first can potentially alleviate the need for legal action.

Other Grounds for Termination of Tenancy

Though there are various types of cases a landlord can pursue (see our blog describing the types here) depending on the circumstances, the nature of a Nonpayment of Rent action has always remained the same – it’s generally an action where the tenant can “pay and stay.” Therefore, if the landlord wishes to end the relationship entirely, and there are grounds to do so, your attorney should be contacted before a Notice is issued to assess if you should proceed in that fashion or to stick with the more conventional nonpayment action.


When there is a pending tenant bankruptcy, a landlord might actually be prevented from pursuing what would otherwise be a standard legal remedy. Therefore, disclosing a pending bankruptcy to your attorney is critical and also allows for its potential effect on the tenancy to be assessed.

Deceased Tenant, Guardian, & Military

When a tenant has passed away, or when they are appointed a guardian, other parties are now potentially involved in your landlord/tenant relationship. Ensuring that the proper parties are communicated with regarding an issue related to the tenancy can affect the outcome of a legal action. It’s therefore important to gather the 3rd party’s contact information and update your attorney before issuing correspondence regarding any tenancy related issue. If you have a tenant who is on active military duty, notifying your attorney of their status before pursuing legal action is also important because additional steps may need to be taken up front.

The Bottom Line: As in any relationship, communication is key, but in a legal relationship sharing certain information is especially important. Doing so can avoid unnecessary delays and can result in a resolution without the need for formal legal action.

The information contained in this article is only meant to be a basic overview and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without the advice of an attorney. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or otherwise be disseminated without the prior written consent of Paletz Law.

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